Antalya: From Ancient Times to Modern Marvel

The southern Turkish city of Antalya, known as the Turkish Riviera’s pearl, boasts a rich and colorful history that spans millennia. This article will traverse through Antalya’s fascinating timeline, from its ancient roots to its metamorphosis into a beloved global tourist destination.

Ancient Antalya

Founding and Early History

Antalya, originally named Attalia, was founded around 150 BC by Attalus II, King of Pergamon. It was a major city in the Byzantine Empire, and during Roman times, it was an important naval base2.

Role in Trade and Religion

Due to its strategic location, Antalya was a significant hub for maritime trade in the Mediterranean. It was also a significant Christian center, with St. Paul and St. Barnabas visiting the city during their missionary journeys.

Medieval Antalya

Seljuk Rule

The Seljuks captured Antalya in the 13th century, marking the city’s first major period of Islamic rule. The Seljuks transformed Antalya, constructing stunning architecture that still stands today, such as the Yivli Minare Mosque.

Ottoman Empire

The Ottomans took over Antalya in the 15th century, further enhancing the city’s status as a commercial and naval base. During this time, Antalya continued to flourish, and its culture and architecture were heavily influenced by Ottoman styles.

Modern Antalya

The Republic of Turkey

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Antalya became part of the newly formed Republic of Turkey in 1923. The city retained its historic charm, but it also started to modernize, gradually developing the amenities that would later make it a popular tourist destination.

Antalya as a Tourist Destination

In the late 20th century, Antalya transformed into one of the Mediterranean’s most popular tourist destinations. Its mix of sun-kissed beaches, turquoise waters, and ancient sites attracts millions of tourists each year.

Noteworthy Sights in Antalya

Hadrian’s Gate

One of Antalya’s most renowned landmarks, Hadrian’s Gate, was erected in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit in 130 AD. This well-preserved triumphal arch is a testament to the city’s Roman history8.

Old Harbor

Antalya’s picturesque Old Harbor, surrounded by ancient walls, was once a bustling trade port. Today, it’s a popular spot for yachts, boat tours, and waterfront dining.


The historic city center, Kaleiçi, offers a glimpse into Antalya’s past with its narrow, winding streets, traditional Ottoman houses, and historical structures like the Yivli Minare Mosque.


Antalya’s historical tapestry and natural beauty make it a city of mesmerizing contrast, where ancient ruins nestle alongside modern resorts. It remains a testament to human history’s endurance and adaptability, continually reinventing itself while preserving its rich past.


  1. Antalya Travel Guide – Lonely Planet
  2. Attalia – Livius
  3. Bible Places: Attalia
  4. Antalya, the city of Seljuks – Daily Sabah
  5. Ottoman Antalya – Turkish Archaeological News
  6. Antalya in the Republic of Turkey Era – Go Turkey Tourism
  7. Antalya as a Tourist Destination – Hurriyet Daily News
  8. Hadrian’s Gate, Antalya – Turkish Archaeological News
  9. Antalya’s Old Harbor – Turkey Travel Planner
  10. Exploring Kaleiçi, Antalya – Turkey Home